Startups and Relationships: The Stress Test

Stress can be destructive. It weakens your body, affects relationships and generally causes damage wherever it goes. Why do we tolerate it then?

It doesn't make a difference if it's in your startup or at home.

Photo: Michael Kyprianou

In an era where more and more people are figuring out the whole healthy body, healthy mind importance, are we also neglecting the opposite? Healthy mind equals healthy body too.

Why do we go to the gym, swim laps and cycle but then don't meditate, practice breathing exercises and allocate quiet time to evolve our minds?

Serious stuff right? What if I told you 84% of all fatal diseases can be traced back to stress in some form or another. It's a problem that has solutions.


Here are what I consider to be the main reasons for stress and how to deal with them. 

Emotion Build up 
Communication is key to avoiding this. 

Remember that time your partner said 'lets do that tomorrow' and you didn't, by the third time the same thing happens you may start to get annoyed putting it down to lack of respect or even not caring enough to bother.

At work that's the same as someone continuously making you wait for a piece of work that your own progress depends on. The same emotions manifest. 

These things should be dealt with immediately. If they are, then the end product which is the stress itself, cannot exist because you are taking away the time that it needs to grow.

At 'work' we usually get all of this out at the weekly stand-ups if it hasn't already been dealt with during the week. We'll give feedback for the positive and negative aspects of the week and also discuss any lingering issues. Then you get to start Monday fresh.

Time Restrictions
Plan and execute

One of the main reasons for running out of time is the inability to estimate time in the first place. 

I remember when I used to plan my calendar for the work day and then combine a few evening activities with my wife. I always put 50% more than what was physically possible into my plan. 

It's not necessarily a bad thing to aim for more but then there must be something that resembles an achievable time plan to aim for.

Why should you stress yourself if you've already achieved what is humanly possible in 24hrs because you left out one task at the end? 

Always aim for more but learn to accept some of the restrictions that time itself will impose on you.

In a relationship, goals are much more measurable in a broader sense. Why worry about..Should we kiss on a first date? How long should I live with someone before getting married? Should I even get married?

We create all these parameters on a societal level which should be personalised to individual situations. 

These are all unnecessary pressures!

At Funifi we're working hard towards a deadline right now, everyone knows it, how would stress help? The trick is to create a sense of urgency but then work with the team to establish the best way to get productivity to optimum levels. 

With my wife Anna, we have our list of goals, we know there are things we want to achieve but there's never a right time for everything.

Embrace it 

In our first week at Startupbootcamp, we were told one thing which would affect our way of thinking from there on. 

Learn to embrace uncertainty 

It's almost an oxymoron but it made perfect sense. Why stress yourself whilst trying to define the undefined? The stress test can only be overcome if we start to acknowledge and understand this question.  

If you read my first article, you already know the trajectory Funifi has taken. We left jobs, apartments and life behind in an instant to take the opportunity in Copenhagen. There was nothing more uncertain for the team or in fact for me and Anna as a couple.

Its supposed to go something like: meet, date, get good jobs, get great jobs, move in together, get married, get a house, have kids, get dogs. Well for us just after 'get married' came 'quit jobs, take a chance, get on the plane'. We were still aligned with our life goals, just accepted that some things have to be shifted around.

Photo: Andrew Michael

When you accept and embrace the fact that not everything can be controlled, it alleviates a certain amount of pressure from you and in turn decreases potential for stress.


Essentially what we are trying to do is two things: 

1 -- Eliminate potential for stress. If we can remove ourselves from situations that we know cause us stress then half the job is already done.

If you know you are a time bomb around others when working to a deadline, isolate yourself, put some headphones on, don't interact with the crowd.

If you argue with your partner at a certain time, straight after work lets say, go do the food shopping or get to a cafe for a quick stop before going home.

2 -- Filter factors that lead to stress. This is where 'down time' comes in. Do things you like with people you love. Meditate, relax or simply do what it is that helps your mind recover and emotionally reset for the next day.


It's all about growth 

We have a line in the Funifi company culture that says 'we grow together' and it's true. How can you possibly spend one third of your life with people and not learn from each other, be influenced by each other. 

Our way is to mould an environment where stress is minimised and when present, channeled in a positive way. We want our guys and girls to feel like they are evolving here, not only as professionals but as people.

This is really no different to how a healthy relationship works, mutual understanding, respect and then a plan. 


Stress is one of those things that we often neglect to deal with or at best deal with poorly. What I've learnt so far is that it can be managed and even better, be prevented if the foundations are there from the start. 

Ultimately it's up to you how you choose to deal with this but I've consciously chosen to be aware, both with my wife and the team. The harder way is usually just that for a reason, because the rewards are also greater.

So go on, give your mind structure and then marvel at how by putting extra effort into constructing your inner world, that reflects absolutely on the outer world.

You are no longer simply reacting to circumstances but actually creating and moulding them in your favour. Stress no longer exists as you fail to acknowledge it as a concept and your path to a more qualitative experience is right there in front of you. 


The mind is an amazing tool, a wondrous place.